Denis McQuail provides a coherent and succinct account of the concept of ‘media audience’ in terms of its history and its place in present-day media theory and research. McQuail describes and explains the main types of audience and the main traditions and fields of audience research. Audience Analysis explains the contrast between social scientific and humanistic approaches and gives due weight to the view ‘from the audience’ as well as the view ‘from the media.’ McQuail summarizes key research findings and assesses the impact of new media developments, especially transnationalization and new interactive technology.
The Future of the Audience Concept
There is no doubt that the audience concept is in many ways outdated and its traditional role in communication theory, models, and research has been called into question. We can (and largely do) go on behaving as if the audience still exists “out there” somewhere, but we may be largely deceiving ourselves. The reasons for questioning the concept are both theoretical and pragmatic. In the early days of mass communication research, the audience concept stood for the body of actual or intended (often simultaneous) receivers of messages at the end of a linear process of information transmission. These usually constituted the paying media public for news and entertainment or the target for advertising ...